The best soap recipe produces a bar with luscious creamy abundant lather.
It creates a rock hard bar of soap that is long lasting (but not too long lasting!)
A perfect soap formula cleanses without being overly drying, and has just the right amount of skin nourishing oils and additives.
And of course, the ideal soap recipe wouldn’t cost more than $1.50 per bar to produce.
Sounds like music to your soapmaker ears, right?
The thing is, the best soap recipe?
It’s like the holy grail of soapmaking. And it’s as unique as you are.
What features I like in my soap are probably different from what you like. I love creamy tight bubbles. I like a bar to be so hard that when I drop it on my bathroom floor, it’s completely unscathed.
I like to lather a soap in my hands (while you might like to use a loofah.) I have semi-soft water (while you might have extremely hard water.) All of these factors change how a bar of soap can perform. Which ultimately changes what the perfect soap recipe is for me versus what you think is the best soap recipe.
So, what is the secret to the best soap recipe?
Learning your fatty acid profiles, understanding your oil properties, and tweaking a formula to your liking is the name of the game.
If you are looking to increase the size of the bubbles or the amount of lather, try:
- Increasing the percentage of oils that contribute to bubbly lather, like coconut oil, palm kernel oil, and babassu oil
- Decreasing the superfat of the total oils, as too many free oils can cut down on lather
- Using a lather increasing additive like sodium citrate, sodium lactate, sugar, or rosin
- Replacing the water with a lather booster that contains sugars, like beer or wine.
If you are looking to stabilize or sustain lather, try:
- Using castor oil at 5% to 10% of your recipe. (Be forewarned, using more than 15% castor oil tends to make the bar sticky, tacky, and rubbery.)
- Adding or increasing oils that support lather, like almond oil, lard, tallow, cocoa butter, palm oil, shea butter, or sunflower oil.
- Decreasing oils that do not contribute a lot to lather (or hinder it), like olive oil.
If you are looking to increase conditioning in a soap recipe, try:
- Replacing the water with alternative liquids, like goats milk (or other milks), yogurt, or aloe vera juice.
- Increasing the superfat of the total oils, to condition the skin.
- Adding or increasing nourishing oils, like apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, olive oil, rice bran oil, or sunflower oil.
- Adding “luxury oils” at 5% to 10%, like argan oil, evening primrose oil, flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, jojoba oil, meadowfoam oil, pumpkin seed oil, or wheatgerm oil.
If you are looking to increase bar hardness, try:
- Increasing your hard to soft oil ratio, by using a higher percentage of hard oils (oils that are solid at room temperature).
- Adding stearic acid at 0.5% to 1% of the total formula.
- Adding beeswax at 1% to 5% of the total formula.
- Adding sodium lactate at 1% to 3% of the total formula.
When that’s all said and done?
Remember, that these are all rough guidelines to help you find YOUR best soap recipe. Your soap recipe’s current oil and fatty acid profile will have a huge influence on whether these tips will work for you. When it comes down to it, learning the fatty acid profiles of each oil and what properties they contribute to your formula is the key to successful formulating.
If you are totally stuck on trying to get the features you want with your formula, let’s talk – I can help you get there.
Want a soap recipe to start off with?
Check out my soap making tutorials to see if a recipe strikes your fancy, like this recipe featuring silk or this one using cambrian blue clay. If you want to give it a go in formulating your own soap recipe, try this basic builder soap formula:
- 60% Hard Oils (Solid at Room Temperature)
- 30% to 45% Lathering Hard Oils
- 15% to 30% Conditioning Hard Oils
- 40% Soft Oils (Liquid at Room Temperature)
- 20% to 30% Nourishing Soft Oils
- 5% to 10% Luxury Soft Oils
- 5% to 10% Castor Oil
Do you have any other tips or tricks to formulating the best soap recipe you want to share? Leave a comment and let me know!